Karl’s view of the NZ vs Argentina match
Well despite the trepidation and nerves from most NZ fans at the start of the TRC, Saturday proved to be a relief. The game allowed for some hope that with this being his last year, Foster is able to shrug off some of the pressure and just get things going so that he can bow out nicely.
The All Blacks are regarded as slow starters to the season, despite the last time they actually lost a season opener being against France in Dunedin some 14 years ago, however on Saturday they set a standard that will be interesting to see if it is maintained. Traditionally they do need a couple of games to get things going well, but on Saturday they hit the ground running and maintained a great run, at least for the first 40 minutes. Some quick and accurate passing from Smith got them on the front foot and this allowed DMac to play flat with runners hitting from different angles that caused the FISM (Falkland Island Silver Medalists for those new to the nicknames) any number of troubles. Some of the good things we saw on Saturday were:
- A powerful scrum that totally dominated what is usually an Argie strong point
- Good lineout variation with accurate throws that generally got to the player they were meant for
- Great variation in attack that kept the Argie defence off balance,
- A speed of recycle that kept the team on the front foot in attack and caused no end of trouble for the Argie defence
- Some brutal defence, led from the front by the captain, that killed off a lot of the attack from the Argies
However, there are areas they need to improve on. They gave away too many penalties, and this could be an issue later in the year. The bench did not maintain the same focus and high tempo and this is something that needs to be worked on. Letting a team back into the game is not something they would want to see again. Their kicking off the tee needs to be better. The points left out on the field could be something that changes a win to a loss.
The Argentineans did play better in the second half which was to be expected from a team recently cobbled together from teams all around the world. There were a lot of signs of greater cohesion and continuity appearing in the later stages of the match and NZ may have been lucky to get them first up. It will be interesting to see how this team moves on and whether they will show even more improvement.
On the whole though this was a great first game of the year and has set the scene for a great game against the DDF (Dutch Dirt Farmers) next week.